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A day in the life of a Durham University student

Following global politics is Cacia To’s passion.

So much so that she chose to leave Hong Kong to pursue a Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) undergraduate degree abroad.

Deciding on Durham University wasn’t difficult; flexible, top academics and with a placement year option — all these led her to apply to the world top 100 university.

It’s no surprise that international students like Cacia are drawn to Durham University. For one, it holds a world-leading academic reputation.

The university made the Top 100 cut in the QS World University Rankings 2020, is ranked fifth in the Guardian University Guide 2020, and ranked sixth in The Complete University Guide 2020.

All these translate to a potential high return of investment for international students. For many, including Cacia, cost is a big factor when deciding where to study.

“When I compared all the universities that offered my course, I knew that Durham was going to be able to offer the most value for money,” she said.

Study in a safe, historic, student-friendly city

Ask first-year student Rabani Kaur from India what her experience in Durham is like so far, and she’ll answer it’s been nothing short of incredible. Libraries and lecture halls are central. Student communities are diverse. Societies go out of their way to make international students feel at home.

The BA in Economics student said, “Durham is a student-friendly town in North East England. Everything is so close together, which makes university life hassle-free and most of the people living here are also students.”

On weekdays, she’s often attending course lectures and seminars. In between, she meets with tutors who are “extra helpful and available at all times”.

During weekends, she explores the town with her friends or checks out any activities the campus is hosting.

“Durham University also hosts numerous events where many reputed industry figures come and speak so I try to attend events that inspire me and motivate me to focus on my studies,” Rabani said.

This dynamic social scene was what sealed the deal for second-year student Zoja Milovancevic to choose Durham University. When she’s not at her study sessions at the Bill Bryson Library, she’s often at the College bars or choreographing routines with her dance group.

“Unlike London universities, Durham offered me the opportunity to be a part of a large community of students which runs various social events,” she explained.

Durham University

Source: Durham University

“On top of that, I read that each College at Durham University offers a variety of extracurricular activities to its student body, such as sports clubs, creative and academic societies. I was sold!”

International students often seek collegiate systems like Durham University’s. Such campus communities — with its myriad of societies, teams and representative groups — can do wonders for international students: developing self-awareness, leadership and problem-solving skills, to name a few.

“The College system did not disappoint. In my first year, I’ve met and made friends with so many people,” Zoja said.

Study with a university that puts your career first

BSc in Environmental Geoscience student Jeanie Li from Hong Kong didn’t choose Durham for its vibrant campus. The top draw for her was the opportunities given to Earth Science students; Durham offers more projects and funds for personal development compared to other universities she was considering.

“Therefore I was certain that my course would help me find my career path or the area of expertise I want to focus in,” she said.

Since setting foot on campus, she’s discovered this to be very much true. There are research projects for Jeanie to apply to, with plenty of information given by her department about internship opportunities with companies that the university is affiliated with.

Her days at the university are often busy and productive, but it’s not just all work and no play. Professional development aside, she is creating memories from Durham’s lively student scene — enough for her to document monthly in a YouTube channel.

“Durham really is a great choice for academics and the environment really helps you achieve your goals as the student population is bigger than the local one. Everyone is in the same boat and will support you no matter what you’re going through,” Jeanie adds.

There’s even a dedicated Careers & Enterprise Centre to help students achieve their career goals. Book an appointment to get valuable insight on an internship or job opening. Alternatively, attend the career fairs the Centre regularly hosts — this is where students can find out  about specific companies that are hiring. Most departments even have their own career events, with a personal academic advisor to help plan your future.

Durham University

Source: Durham University

“They also offer individual and group workshops for CV and application writing, interviews, and they even send us emails with vacancies for part-time student jobs, summer internships, placement years and graduate jobs,” PPE undergraduate Zoja said.

With all these resources, activities and more, it’s clear to see that your personal and professional development always comes first at Durham University. 

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